Swiss elites were disappointed in the voters’ rejection of the EU vision of open borders that has been such a failure in Europe, at least in the minds of many citizens. The vote was hailed by eurosceptics, like UKIP’s Nigel Farage who described the outcome as “wonderful news for national sovereignty and freedom lovers throughout Europe.”
However, the Swiss government was not happy with the results:
The existence of a national referendum has allowed the Swiss people to make several strong statements against the crazy diversity that liberals love. In 2010 they voted for automatic deportation for foreign criminals. In 2009, voters approved a measure to ban minarets.
The Swiss sign below says “Enough already! Stop mass immigration.”
Sunday’s vote was seen by many as revolt against the dictates of Brussels bureaucracy.
Switzerland votes to re-introduce curbs on immigration, Daily Telegraph, February 9, 2014
Euro-sceptic parties hail a blow for ‘people power’ as Swiss vote to scrap deal allowing EU workers in
Switzerland voted yesterday to reimpose curbs on immigration from the European Union, in a referendum that is likely to cause anger in Brussels.
The nation of eight million voted by a 50.3 majority in favour of a “Stop Mass Immigration” proposal pushed by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP). The decision means the government will have to renegotiate a deal struck with Brussels seven years ago that gave most EU citizens free access to the Swiss labour market.
The SVP had said that the 80,000 EU citizens who were now coming in every year was roughly ten times the initial predictions back in 2007, and that it had overburned the education and health systems. Public transport was also struggling to cope, as was the housing market.
Switzerland’s seven-member multiparty government, the Federal Council, in which the SVP has one cabinet post, had opposed the reintroduction of curbs, saying it could hit the economy and undermine the country’s relationship with the EU.
But under Switzerland’s highly devolved system of rule, where most key decisions are taken by popular referendum, the government has no choice but to respect the result.
It was hailed as significant victory yesterday by the UK Independence Party, which said it showed how countries with concerns over immigration could stand up to “bullying” from Brussels.
“This is wonderful news for national sovereignty and freedom lovers throughout Europe,” said Nigel Farage, UKIP’s leader. “A wise and strong Switzerland has stood up to the bullying and threats of the unelected bureaucrats of Brussels.”
Toni Brunner, head of the SVP, which has long opposed Switzerland joining the EU, said: “This is a turning point in our immigration policy.”
Critics of the migration control plan point out that the treaty with the EU already allowed Switzerland to reimpose temporary quotas – something it has deployed to control numbers of workers from the EU’s ex-communist member states. But the quota clause expires this year.
Over recent years, the proportion of foreigners in Switzerland has risen from around one-fifth of the population to roughly a quarter. The majority of recent immigrants are from neighbouring Germany, Italy and France, as well as Portugal.